Body dissatisfaction and dimorphic body disorder (BDD) are problems that affect many people within society. The most affected group is adolescents. The reason attributed to these problems is that adolescents’ bodies have just started to change physically, and some refuse to accept the changes in their bodies. In addition, at the adolescent stage, a person begins rediscovering himself or herself and may want to look a particular way, but changes in their bodies do not reflect their desires. As a result, the adolescents become dissatisfied with their bodies leading to engagement in acts that distort their bodies. One of these acts they may engage in is eating disorders. The reason for these engagements is that they want to look better in society. After all, they think they do not fit in in their current state. As a result, they tend to eat poorly to enhance their bodies and feel comfortable in their bodies. This paper looks into factors that influence eating disorders in adolescents. More specifically, the paper tends to answer how body dissatisfaction and BDD affect adolescents’ eating habits. Given that these eating disorders are a threat to the adolescents and the society at large, there is no doubt that body dissatisfaction and BDD is a problem that needs attention. Therefore, interventions are required to help adolescents deal with body changes and learn how to accept their bodies. In addition, educating them on how to deal with cyber bullying will go a long way in ensuring that they do not change their bodies to impress the people in social media platforms. Consequently, they will be able to eat a healthy diet and avoid disorders that may arise from poor eating habits.
Keywords: Body dissatisfaction, dimorphic body disorder (BDD), adolescents, eating disorders, body changes, appearance, intervention, social media
Body Dissatisfaction and Eating Disorders
Body dimorphic disorder (BDD) refers to a condition whereby the person affected preoccupies themselves with imaginations regarding their appearance. Individuals suffering from this condition do not appreciate how their bodies look but instead see their faults. Small traits within their body, such as face and skin, cause a lot of concern to the individual. As a result, they tend to behave abnormally such that they stand in front of a mirror for long periods trying to look at themselves to see if the flaws they have are changing. They avoid going to public places to avoid social contact with other people as they always think they look bad before them. Some may go to the extent of going through cosmetic surgeries to hide the flaws. They would rather spend money to look good than post pictures on the internet with flaws. During early adolescence stages, body dissatisfaction is prevalent. Body dissatisfaction at this age leads to eating disorders and depression in the late stages of adolescence. Although some indicate that body dissatisfaction is equal in both males and females flaws, information regarding adolescent boys’ dissatisfaction is minimal, meaning that eating disorders mostly affect teenage girls. (Dingemans et al., 2020). Both body dissatisfaction and BDD have a long-term effect on the affected individuals.
Body dissatisfaction and BDD can influence individuals’ eating habits. According to Derrene (2018), body appearance and poor eating habits are intertwined. A person with BDD condition is most likely having an eating disorder. The same applies to individuals who are not happy with their bodies. In the modern world, the use of the internet has dominated the world. Many activities are involved in the internet, where most of these activities require one to post their images. These obsessions make those who are interested in pursuing perfections with their pictures. They aim to post pictures of themselves looking perfect for others to see. The urge to be thin ideal makes the adolescents change their diets to attain the desired body weights or sizes appealing to the eye. When vulnerable groups, mostly adolescents, are exposed to social media platforms, they start comparing their bodies to those they see on the internet. As a result, they develop a feeling of body dissatisfaction and strive to attain such bodies through disordered eating.
Adolescents tend to stand in front of a mirror to check their appearance. An adolescent with BDD is likely to see flaws their body. If they are not happy with what they see in the mirror, they become stressed and resolve in going on a mission to change their bodies. Eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa emerge as the adolescents strive to have a body that they want to see once they look at a mirror (Ruffolo et al., 2006). Adolescents may look at themselves and grow a perception that they are ugly. According to Dingemans et al. (2016), adolescents who view themselves as ugly tend to eat little or no food and engage in vigorous exercises to improve their appearance. If their weight is the point of concern, they engage in abnormal eating behavior, which leads to eating disorders. These adolescents, having gone through BDD, end up developing an eating disorder.
BDD and body dissatisfaction also affect the eating habits of those with non-weight issues. For instance, a person struggling with BDD can be concerned with how their skin or hair looks. Their situation may lead to these individuals becoming stressed and suffer depression. People with depression hardly eat well, and as a result, they develop eating disorders by either eating excess or less (Kollei et al., 2013). Cultural differences cause body dissatisfaction to some individuals. According to Forbes et al. (2012), cultural features among women in different countries differ. If adolescents are exposed to such cultural differences without proper education, they may find themselves suffering from body dissatisfaction. Young women from different cultures have different body shapes and sizes. Women from Brazil and Argentina are known to have thin ideal bodies, unlike those from South America. Further, research done on these women with different cultures showed that most suffer from body dissatisfaction. Women find themselves s suffering from social anxiety and eating disorders since they cannot accept the body they possess. Their eating disorders are directly linked to the effects of body dissatisfaction and BDD.
Several pieces of research prove that eating disorders in most adolescents are associated with body dissatisfaction and BDD. In addition, conditions mostly affect women. As Ruffolo et al. (2006) indicate, eating disorders resulting from body dissatisfaction involved women. Also, eating disorders are less likely to affect African American women. The expectations are that people suffering from an eating disorder are also not likely to suffer from BDD. Results showed that the expectations are false, and indeed people with eating disorders are associated with body dissatisfaction and BDD (Dingemans et al., 2020). In research, it is evident that those individuals picked to participate in a survey have hated how one part of their body looked like, which affected their eating habits. There is no doubt that the two influence eating disorders. Most people with BDD and body dissatisfaction also suffer from eating disorders, as the research conducted by several researchers shows they are related.
Having learned that adolescents are at a high risk of eating disorders, interventions must be put in place to overcome the situation. Helping adolescents deal with their frustrations responsibly will save them from suffering chronic diseases associated with poor eating habits. The habits are dangerous to the individuals and therefore need serious interventions to protect the adolescents. Conditions that arise from low eating disorders harm the group. Many adolescents face many frustrations in their lives, and society needs to intervene and help them live responsibly by tackling their fears in a responsible manner. When imposing mitigation measures to curb eating disorders among teenagers, one can learn new things from the targeted group. Learning more about what they fear that leads to them indulging in certain behaviors is essential. Information received from the target group can be used to help them better. This research proposal will involve adolescents because they are the ones mostly affected by BDD and body dissatisfaction. The mode of data collection may be in the form of a questionnaire, which can ask questions to the group. Several guidelines may help adolescents based on their answers regarding the fears that arise due to their appearance.
Derenne, J. & Beresin, E. (2017). Body image, media and eating disorders- a 10 year update. Academic Psychiatry, 42(1), 129-134. doi 10.1007/s40596-017-0832-z
Dingemans, A. E., Rood, Y. R., Groot, I., Furth, E. F. (2012). Body dismorphic disorder in patients with an eating disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45(4), 562-569.
Forbes, G. B., Jung, J., Vaamonde, J. D., Omar, A., Paris, L., Formiga, N. S. (2012). Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in three cultures: Argentina, Brazil and the U.S. Springer Science, 66(1), 677-694. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0105-3
Jung, J., Forbes, G. B., Lee, Y. J. (2009). Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating among early adolescents from Korea and the US. Springer Science, 61(1), 42-54. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-009-9609-5
Kollei, I., Schieber, K., Zwaan, M., Svitak, M., Martin, A., (2013). Body dysmorphic disorder and non-weight related body image concerns in individuals with eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 46(1), 52-59. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22067
Ruffolo, J. S., Phillips K. A., Menard, W., Fay, C., Weisberg, R. B. (2006). Cormobity of body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39(1), 11-19.
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